Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Interview with The Horror Honeys Part I

If you’re a fan of The Horror Honeys and their online magazine, Belladonna, you might be excited to hear that this month marks the magazine’s first anniversary.  To celebrate, I was fortunate enough to snag an interview with not one, not two, but THIRTEEN members of the gang. 

If you're not familiar with the Honeys, you should remedy that ASAP.  This is a phenomenal group of women who review, analyze, and at times viciously ridicule the horror genre.  They each have their own slice of the horror genre on which they focus, but they're all incredibly talented.

Given the epic nature of getting responses from 13 different writers, we’ll be breaking the interview into two parts.  For part one, the Honeys introduce themselves by talking a bit about how they got into the horror genre, how their tastes have evolved, and how they work over various media.

Do you remember when you first fell for horror?  Was there a particular movie that did it?
Kat Morris (Head Honey and co-owner) - Horror happened really early for me, and I started watching black and white Roger Corman movies with my dad when I was pretty young. I was in love with Vincent Price from a super early age, and I always gravitated towards creepier things when I was a child. The Pit and The Pendulum and The Raven were my first loves.
LinnieSara Halpern (Revenge Honey and co-owner) - When I was wee girl, my grandfather was a big fan of horror films and novels, and he would watch the movies in his TV room, where I could always hear them. This fostered a kind of obsession with seeing them for myself. So when he finally let me join him for a movie, it was a HUGE moment in my horror life. And that movie was Misery, so it's always been pretty important to me.
Bella Blitz (Zombie Honey and Graphic Designer for Belladonna Magazine) - Oh yes. I was probably about 5 or 6 and temporarily living with my grandparents and my aunt, who had no idea what was appropriate for a child. We had a local horror show host called Dr. Paul Bearer and one of his compilations was running in the afternoon. I remember distinctly watching it through my fingers, confused about the emotions I felt. Later, when I was 8 or 9 and my aunt threw on Hellraiser, I understood better the feelings from those few years before. I was hooked.
Jocelyn Rivard (Hardcover Honey) - I saw my first horror movie at 9 (it was Poltergeist) and it hit me hard. A few years later I realized they were great excuses to grab onto whatever pimply middle-school nerd had his arm around me that weekend, but often found that the movies were more interesting than the boys (this remains true to a certain extent).
Katie Kuriosa (Sci-Fi Honey) - My stepfather would record horror movies on VHS and keep them in a closet in our living room; I would go in there and read the titles on all the spines and wonder if I was 'brave' enough to watch based on the title alone. One of the earliest movies I remember pulling out was Night of the Creeps, and it didn’t disappoint. From there I would watch every horror movie in the closet, my parents warning me all the while that I’d have nightmares, and I usually did. But I didn’t care.
Chassity M (Slasher Honey) – The first time I saw Scream. I remember being amused yet terrified, and I immediately wanted more of the genre. There was just something about that intense rush of suspense.
Kaley Azuri (Gamer Honey) – Trying to watch horror movies when I was a kid was always a fight with my mom. She tried desperately to shield me from the world of terror but always lost the battle unknowingly. My earliest memories of watching horror movies involved peaking up from behind the couch and catching glimpses of films like IT. I was always fascinated by this very taboo world and was vigilant in my determination to see it.
Brittany Moseley (Musical Horror Honey) – Jurassic Park, if that counts. I’m a young’un, and when it came out on VHS, my dad showed it to me but would fast forward through all of the “scary parts” and I got so pissed off. I wanted to see that T-rex, dammit! Kubrick’s The Shining also did it for me. I had a white hallway I had to run down with my eyes closed for a week after. I loved it.
Sarah Miles (Monster Honey) My journey to horror started with books more than movies. I would just read everything I could about ghosts and children’s abridged versions of classic horror novels like Dracula and Frankenstein. A lot of my first proper horror movies that I watched were things like The Others and The Haunting (crappy remake AND original), very classic ghost stories.
Kim Douthit (Supernatural Honey) – I first fell for horror watching movies with my Mom on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. One of the local networks would play afternoon movies, usually B movies from the 70s. I have very vivid memories of being very very young and watching Squirm and the original Piranha. Before too long, I discovered Friday the 13th when the USA Network would run their marathons. From there on out, I was hooked.
Doris Sutherland (Comics Honey) - I was interested in horror in one form or another for as long as I can remember. But I wasn't able to actually watch a horror film until I was in my early teens and had a TV in my bedroom - I freely indulged in the forbidden treats! The first films I truly embraced were the Hammer films, starting with Dracula: Prince of Darkness. I remember being eager to finally see famous characters like Dracula and Frankenstein in action. At around the same time, I caught The Wicker Man, Ringu, Night of the Living Dead, Psycho and The Omen.
Addison Peacock (Horror TV Honey) -When I was eight years old my mother used to read excerpts from the works of Edgar Allen Poe to me. My favorites were The Raven and bits and pieces she selected from The Tell-Tale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher. If I had to pick a horror film that cemented my love of horror in the cinema world specifically, it would be The Shining. My dad decided to show it to me on a snow day (how sadistic) when I was about 12-years-old, and I was hooked.
Kat Wells (Horror TV Honey) - This is one thing I can absolutely trace back to watching John Carpenter's Halloween with my mom when I was probably far too young to be watching it. But she made it a fun experience full of warm memories, and a lifelong horror fan was born.
Has your love of the genre changed from when you a kid?  Does it mean something different to you now than it did back then
Kat M – Obviously as you age, your perception changes, but I don’t think I can name a film or book that I was fascinated by that doesn’t still hold some kind of awe for me or provide the same delicious shiver it did when I was an awkward weird teenager who colored her fingernails in with sharpie.  
Bella: When I was a kid I loved horror because it was a bit taboo for me to watch it and it made me feel things that I didn't feel just being a kid. It was also a great distraction from the terrors of my life: a bizarrely broken family, social awkwardness, and depression. As an adult, it's still a great distraction from those things but my love of it now comes more from a place of understanding the human condition, or at least always questioning it.
Jocelyn - I was more scared when I was a kid, obviously, I can remember checking under my bed at night. Now it's more gleeful when I watch a scary movie.
Katie - Back [as a kid], I was a pure thrill-seeker; in my pre-teens I was obsessed with trying to find the darkest, filthiest, and most vile horror movies on the planet. I'd go to my local video store and ask them to order me horror movies that were rated X, like Andy Warhol's Flesh for Frankenstein. I no longer have the appetite for gore and depravity that I once did. As I grew up and was witness to more real-life horrors around the world, certain things in horror movies started to affect me in different ways or make me turn away from the screen altogether.  I believe that my emotional maturity has also changed the way I watch horror.
Chassity - It's changed because as a child it was all about enjoying the sensation of fright, and watching something naughty. Now, it's about finding joy in analyzing and deconstructing themes in horror, and why certain things scare us and others don't.
Kaley - I still love love love older 80s horror, but when it comes down to it I will always prefer video games. Resident Evil and Silent Hill were game changers for me (no pun intended) and since their release, the virtual world is where I made my home.
Sarah - In many ways not really. I definitely still have that same curiosity about the creepy and strange. I just love stories, and I find that a really good horror movie is storytelling at its best.
Kim - Up until I was a young teenager, most of my access to horror came from what would run on TV. That meant I watched a lot of the same films over and over. Then Hollywood Video opened up in my town. Game-changer. I went through the horror section, devouring everything. Now, in a lot of ways, my approach to horror is still the same as it was when I was a kid. Find it, watch it, then watch some more.
Doris - These days I pay more attention to the cultural contexts behind the stories, although that's an inevitable part of growing up. I'm much more of a horror omnivore these days, when I first started out I used to turn my nose up at slashers, for example, but my favourite areas are more or less the same. I suppose the biggest difference now is that I'm trying my hand at writing horror stories myself. I never had the confidence to do that as a teenager.
Addison - When I was a kid, it was an exercise in imagination, in how dark and scary the world outside of my sleepy small-town childhood could get. Now, it is still an exercise in imagination, just a different kind. It's just as much entertainment as it was when I was a kid, but now there is a deep element of catharsis that is very important to me.

What prompted the creation of Belladonna magazine?  How does it differ from the website?  
Bella: As I recall, Kat and Linnie were looking to do something big for the three year anniversary of The Horror Honeys. I offhandedly pitched the idea, and Kat and Linnie were supportive, reflective, and excited. Everyone these days can have a website, blog, or podcast. But no one was doing a printed horror magazine that was entirely created by women.
Kat M– In an age where literally ANYONE can have a blog to share their ideas and theories on film and genre, we wanted to stand out. When you’re a needle in a stack of needles, it’s time to switch gears. Five years ago, I would get drunk and write down my opinions on a movie and post it on the site. Now, articles are extensively researched, and have a thesis and a meaning beyond “this is how I feel, deal with it!”
Belladonna’s covers exclusively feature female horror content creators, and we are proud to be a different kind of voice for women in the genre that doesn’t rely on being naked in a bathtub covered in blood to get hits.   
Katie - Belladonna gives us opportunities to write about all different kinds of subjects under the horror umbrella more in-depth than when we were churning out weekly reviews for the site. We can take an idea and really flesh it out, contact artists and filmmakers for interviews, and take our time on pieces for a monthly submission.
Brittany - Belladonna is amazing because it allows us to explore in depth topics that excite us, that don't necessarily have to be as timely as the blog.
Addison – Belladonna differs from the website in terms of the kind of content we are creating for it. There is a bit more room to play with the subject matter and the content. We also have a monthly theme that we are given a chance to explore as we like, as opposed to sticking with our Honey designations like we tend to do on the website.
I hear whispers that your podcast, which has been on hiatus for a bit, is making a return. How do you like doing the podcast as opposed to writing for the website and for the magazine? 
Kat – The podcast hiatus is my fault. Last year I moved overseas and it was just a rollicking mess to get everything organized on my new time zone. We’re starting on Season 4 this year, and I wouldn’t give it up for the world. We’re all smart bitches, and sharing our experiences with horror and life only helps us grow as horror fans and as people.  I also just love talking to these women. We’re bloody hilarious.    
Bella: Personally, I adore podcasts. I would do them all if there were time, and a desire to have me on them (wink wink, nudge nudge). Writers block is a very real thing, even for us reviewers. But talking block? Not so much.
Katie – Selfishly, I like doing the podcast because it gives me a chance to catch up with my fellow Honeys; it's just always nice to hear their voices and they give me lots of laughs. I also loved being able to talk to some of the filmmakers we've interviewed for the podcast and to learn how witty, friendly, and creative they are first-hand.
Chassity - I LOVE doing the podcast so much. It's a completely different thrill because it's a chance to get multiple opinions and discuss where we disagree. One of my favorite things about being a Horror Honey is that weekly chance to catch up with the other Honeys and be silly with each other about all the things in the horror world that drive us crazy, and to gush over the things we love or are looking forward to.
Kaley - For me, I prefer the conversational atmosphere of the podcast vs writing an article. There's nothing like making ball jokes to celebrities and listening to the stifled laughter of your colleagues trying to remain professional.
Brittany - The podcast is so fun, not only because we all get a chance to actually talk to each other, but to have real time discussion all at once about topics we are super passionate about. Nothing is more exciting than getting a bunch of really opinionated people who like each other to get together and talk about what they love.
Kat W - I do have my own horror podcast, Boys and Ghouls, and I'm a prolific listener of podcasts. I think the medium offers an intimacy that you can't get even from reading someone's writing. It's another way to make a really personal connection with people.
What’s your favorite thing that you’ve produced for The Horror Honeys?
Kat - *gestures crazily at everything* But for my own writing, the examination of Manhunter/Red Dragon and interview with Janice Poon (Hannibal’s food designer) that I did for December’s Belladonna.
Linnie: Well, my list of the best castrations is definitely the most popular [Editor’s Note: Eek].  But I've also always really been proud of a piece I wrote on Battlestar Galatctica with our original Sci-Fi Honey, Jen.
Bella: I'm pretty proud of everything I create for the Honeys. I have a wonderful sense of community and accomplishment when I submit something for the website or Belladonna. Currently my most proud features are in Belladonna: Bella's Bad Touch and Dead Diary.
Katie - I don't know if it's my favorite, but I do remember watching the HBO Scientology documentary Going Clear and feeling like I needed to write a Sci-Fi piece on it. The Honeys in charge were very receptive to the idea and allowed me to channel all of my anger and confusion into this 1,000+ word piece, after which I felt like I'd emotionally purged something from deep within me.

Chassity - Writing about hillbilly horror for Belladonna gave me a chance to really explore the psychology behind a lot of what we see in horror.

Brittany - Interviewing Terrance Zdunich and Saar Hendelman for American Murder Song. I think I've peaked too early with the Honeys, because that was probably one of the greatest moments in my life.

Sarah - I think my favourite thing has been my diaries for the FrightFest film festival. It's so much fun to talk about all the different movies and I try to get across the awesome atmosphere that it has.
Kim - I still really love the first piece I wrote as a Guest Honey on the 100 Days of Horror many October's ago.  It was actually my first time writing something officially for a horror website.
Addison - For my first ever issue of Belladonna, "Christmas with the Cannibal", I wrote a research piece on medical cannibalism. I have no idea if anyone aside from me enjoyed it, but it's a subject that I find absolutely fascinating.
Kat W - I'm really proud of this piece I did on classic horror radio! I love deep cuts, and I feel like horror fans are more willing than your average moviegoer to seek out new ways to deepen their knowledge and experience of the genre.
Check in next Tuesday for part two if this epic interview.  We get into some questions about women in horror, and some of the unique challenges the Honeys have seen and experienced in the genre. You won't want to miss it! 

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